all hands on deck

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We’re past Halloween as the calendar hit November this week.  If you have ever worked in retail you know what that means: HOLIDAY is here.  In a previous post I had written about what it is like to work in the environment where my calendar and sense of the season feels perpetually off kilter.   Now in my job we have shifted gears.  We’ve moved from the seemingly endless process of planning the Holiday campaign and instead now focus on managing the work as our marketing and merchandising plans comes to life.

Working at a retailer, I have found the Holiday shopping season to be both nerve wracking and energizing.  For most retailers, much of the annual sales occur during this time of the year. At my job it is no different.  Now is the time when we find out if all the all the hard work pays off.  The next 10 weeks will determine if we have a good year, a great year or a year that doesn’t meet expectations.  Almost every work conversation that I have or every meeting that I attend revolves around our Holiday efforts.  To a certain extent, tunnel vision is taking place.The focus on the here and now just doesn’t stop in the office, but it also extends to our stores and website.  Last month we went into what is called “holiday freeze.”  Following the freeze, we stop making any adjustments to our store merchandising displays or the products we carry although there are always exceptions.  We hold off on making any technology adjustments to the website.  Corporate employees are asked to cease making visits to stores except during off-peak hours.

Even walking into the office (or the Sandcrawlers as I affectionately like to call them), there is a different vibe in the air.  I’ve always felt that our corporate office has a certain energy to it, but this time of the year that energy feels heightened.  As we get closer to Thanksgiving it gets even more intense. And then you have Black Friday which is a beast unto itself.  (I think that has always been the case, but Black Friday is even more noteworthy this year because so many retailers are rushing to have earlier store opening hours.)  Come Black Friday all the wheels will be in motion and there will be non-stop updates coming in from all corners of the company.  Conference calls will be happening non-stop.  Teams will be checking in on our stores and on the website; other folks will be out and about evaluating the competition.  Plus, it seems like every group within the company has a swat-team assembled and ready to react at a moment’s notice in case something needs to happen.

The all hands-on-deck mentality that surrounds this time of year is something that certainly keeps my job from becoming dull.  When I talk to friends or colleagues that work in other industries, I have found it tough to convey what this time of year is like unless someone actually experienced it firsthand.  Is it stressful? Yes. Does it get your adrenaline going? Absolutely.  Can it keep you up at night?  You bet.  Is it fun?  Definitely.  I know the economy is tough right now and the retail competition is going to be stiff, but I’m excited to be a part of it and see how the season unfolds.

(Photo courtesy of Creative Commons license: Stephen McLeod Blythe.)

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